Controller Best Practices


New elf
Oct 3, 2020
Newbie question for you all. This is my first year and I plan to start small but I'm trying to be forward looking with my hardware purchases. This year's show will most likely be a pixel tree with a star on top. I was wondering whether it would be better to drive my tree from a dedicated Falcon F4v3 and then expand next year to more controllers for rest of the show, or just go ahead and buy a controller like the F16v3 or F48. Greatly appreciate your advice in advance on this. Thank you.


Retired Elf
Feb 9, 2020
West Central Ohio
Depends upon how large your pixel tree is and where your plans lead in the next year or two.

My thoughts on the Falcons are: the F48 is mostly for displays spread over a fairly large area. It has no physical outputs and is a distribution device for receivers. The F16 and F4 both have outputs and can be expanded, the F4 being a smaller display version of the F16. If you go to the Falcon web page and click on one of the controller links to navigate to that particular product and scroll down a bit, you will find another link to a 'Specification Sheet' document. There you will find a comparison chart of the controllers; outputs/inputs and such.

I'm still beginning myself and am using a Falcon F4. I'll have slightly more than 2000 pixels hanging from it. The F4 is not as cost effective as the F16 but the F4 allows me to more easily expand my display strategically; to compartmentalize it as it were.
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cats & pixels
Dec 1, 2015
I was also juggling between an F16V3 and an F48. Max run to any item in the yard from the controller is about 15m.

Was able to get that 15m easily using an F16V3 and Alans pixel buffer, via some cheap 3 core security cable. A cheap CRO showed very little deformation of the pulses due to the cable LC, so could probably go further.

Like nightflyer, the F16 will be driving a 24 x100 string tree, split over 4 ports, topped with a star (probably still using an esp for data).

Both the F16 and F48 are great pieces of kit.. the f48 should be able to drive leds a kilometer away with the right cable :)


Jan 2, 2015
I would pony up for the F16 now over the F4, the F16 can basically drive 48 ports (or is it 32?) of pixels with all the expansion boards, receivers and everything else you can think of attached... it's also a lot easier when starting of if you just have 1 prop connected to 1 port of your controller, when you start daisy chaining props together, adding smart or differential receivers, it gets complicated really quickly. I'm currently running 1 x f16v3 with differential expansion boards, 1 x f16v2r, 1 x kulp 32 port controller, I have a lot of ports because I'm lazy and it's just easier for me, I could power inject a lot more and probably squeeze it all onto a single f16v3 if I really wanted to, but I like to keep it simple.